Morris K. Udall Professor of Law
and Public Policy
University of Arizona
[email protected]
America’s Water Crisis
What To Do About It
The Crisis
Real and Surreal Solutions
A New Approach
“There is no lack of water in the Mojave
Desert unless you try to establish a city where
no city should be.”
Edward Abbey
Bellagio Fountain, Las Vegas
MGM CityCenter, Las Vegas
“Pat, I just have to have a water feature. I just
have to. Don’t tell me I can’t do it. Just tell
me how to do it.”
Steve Wynn
“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of
Benjamin Franklin (1774)
The Crisis
Signs of the Crisis Since 2007
Orme, Tennessee
Lake Mead
Bowater Paper Company
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
• California’s Central Valley
• Lake Superior
• Commercial fishing off the coasts of California
and Oregon.
• Idaho, Arizona and Montana
• Riverside County, California
• Atlanta, Georgia
Lake Lanier – Atlanta’s Principal Water Supply
ACF Basin
Snow-Making at Stone Mountain, Georgia
“This drought is not particularly different from
previous ones.”
Todd Rasmussen
University of Georgia professor
of water resources and hydrology
Shower Tower
Jennifer Aniston Smartwater Ad
Map of Ethanol Plants
Google Server Farm
Intel Graph
Real and Surreal Solutions
“The United States has built, on average, one
large dam a day, every single day, since the
Declaration of Independence.”
Bruce Babbitt
former Secretary of the Interior
Ogallala Aquifer
Earth Fissure, Arizona - 2005
San Joaquin Valley
in west-central
in west-central
by groundwater
caused bypumping
groundwater pumping
Riddle: Where does water in a river come
from if it hasn’t rained recently?
Answer: Groundwater.
Santa Cruz River, Tucson, AZ
Ipswich River, Massachusetts
Aaron Million’s Proposed Pipeline
“Everybody complains about the weather, but
nobody ever does anything about it.”
Mark Twain
“Water, water every where,
Nor any drop to drink.”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Yuma Desalting
Plant Region
“Your golden retriever may drink out of the
toilet with no ill effects. But that doesn’t
mean humans should do the same.”
San Diego Tribune
“I believe it is our God-given right as
Californians to be able to water gardens and
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (2004)
Water Harvesting Silo
A New Approach
“Civilized people should be able to dispose of
sewage in a better way than by putting it in
the drinking water.”
Teddy Roosevelt (1910)
“The flush toilet is mankind’s single greatest
Ann Coulter
“It is scarcity and plenty that make the vulgar
take things to be precious or worthless; they
call a diamond very beautiful because it is like
pure water, and then would not exchange one
for ten barrels of water.”
Galileo Galilei (1632)
We’re entering an era
of water reallocation.
Geneva Steel - 1942
1. 1,750 acres of prime real estate: $ 46.8 million
2. Steel mills machinery & equipment to Chinese firm:
$ 40.0 million
3. Iron ore mine to mining company: $ 10.0 million
4. Pollution reduction credits:
$ 4.0 million
TOTAL $101.8 million
5. Water rights:
$102.5 million
John Day River Basin Map
The Buffalo’s Lament
Three objections to markets:
• Windfall profits
• Encourage sprawl
• Environmental interests can’t compete
Reforms I advocate include:
Encouraging creative conservation
Using price signals
Creating market incentives
Reexamining how we dispose of human waste
Requiring developers to pay their own way
Reconsidering the location of wastewater plants
Separating storm water from sewer water
Creating infrastructure with dual pipes to supply potable and reclaimed water
Abandoning business as usual (more dams, diversions and wells)
Recognizing the link between water and energy
Appreciating the critical role played by water in the economy
Removing barriers to water transfers while providing for government oversight of
Creating incentives for homeowners and others to harvest water
Stimulating alternative waste disposal technologies
Metering water use
Securing water for the environment
“Anything else you’re interested in is not going
to happen if you can’t breathe and the air and
drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do
something. You are by accident of fate alive at
an absolutely critical moment in the history of
our planet.”
Carl Sagan